Somerset County NJ Theft Defense Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with theft of either movable or immovable property in Somerset or Hunterdon County, the criminal defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help. When it comes to theft crimes, the offense can either be a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) or a second, third or fourth degree felony offense. Theft charges in New Jersey are serious offenses and if not handled properly, could land in a Defendant behind bars for up to a decade. In addition, based on the new bail guidelines, a Defendant charged with theft could potential be detained the Somerset County jail, without bail, pending trial. However, in order to do so, the prosecution must file for what is known as a Detention Hearing. At this hearing, it will be the prosecution’s burden to establish that there are no reasonable means to assure the Defendant’s appearance in court, protect the public and/or prevent them from interfering with their case. These hearings can and always should be contested. If you would like to speak to one of our Hunterdon County criminal defense lawyers about your options then please contact us at (908) 533-1064.
Need to Consult with a Theft Defense Lawyer in Bridgewater NJ
Being charged with a crime like theft of moveable property, burglary, theft by deception, theft of services, robbery, receiving stolen property, passing bad checks or shoplifting can be terrifying. However, hiring the right criminal defense attorney, someone that not only knows criminal law but someone who also knows how the specific courts work, can go a long way to alleviating some of the stress. If you have been arrested in towns like Clinton, Flemington, Bridgewater, Readington, Somerville, Raritan, South Bound Brook, North Plainfield or Bound Brook, we can help. The criminal defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law have been representing clients accused of crimes in courts throughout New Jersey, including courts in Somerset and Hunterdon County. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys, then please contact us at (908) 533-1064. Do not let a simple mistake or lapse in judgment ruin your future. A theft conviction can be absolutely devastating to your future. Now here is some key information on theft charges in New Jersey.
How are Theft Cases Prosecuted in Somerset County
Theft of moveable property are considered hybrid offenses in New Jersey. Meaning they can either be considered a misdemeanor or felony. The value of the loss or attempted loss will dictate what degree of a theft an individual is charged with. The degree of the charge will also control in what Court will have original jurisdiction over the charges. All disorderly persons theft cases, which is New Jersey’s version of a misdemeanor will be litigated in the local municipal court in the municipality where the incident happened. However, all indictable offense theft charges, which is New Jersey’s version of a felony, will be transferred from the local municipal court to the Criminal Division of the Superior Court of the County where the incident happened. With that being said, it is possible to have an indictable theft offense downgraded to a disorderly persons offense and remanded back to the local municipal court for disposition.
Elements of a Theft of Moveable Property Charge in NJ: NJSA 2C:20-3a
Whether you have been charged with theft of services, theft by deception, receiving stolen property or theft of moveable property in New Jersey they will all be governed under NJSA 2C:20. However, each one of those offenses has been broken down into different subsections and NJSA 2C:20-3a is the subsection that covers theft of movable property. The statute states in pertinent part that, “a person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises unlawful control over, movable property of another with purpose to deprive him thereof.” In order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecution must prove two material elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the Defendant knowingly took possession of or unlawfully exercised control over movable property of another; &
- The Defendant did so with the underlying purpose was to deprive the other person of the movable property.
The term “property” has been defined as any tangible and/or intangible, for example:
- Personal property;
- Trade secrets;
- Contract rights;
- Food and drink,
- Electric and gas etc.
The term “movable property” means any property who’s location of which can be changed and/or moved.
Elements for a Theft of Immoveable Property Case in NJ: NJSA 2C:20-3b
Conversely, the crime of theft of immoveable property is governed by NJSA 2C:20-3b. The statute states in pertinent part that, “a person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully transfers any interest in immovable property of another with purpose to benefit himself or another not entitled thereto”. In order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecution must prove four material elements, they include:
- That the Defendant unlawfully transferred any interest in immovable property;
- That the Defendant knew that the transfer was unlawful;
- The Defendant knew the immovable property was actually the property of another; &
- In doing so, the Defendant had the underlying purpose to benefit another.
What is the Jail time on a Theft Charge in NJ?
As touched upon earlier, theft of immovable or moveable property charges can either be a disorderly persons offense or a second, third or fourth degree felony. The value of the property in question will dictate what degree of theft a Defendant is charged with. Here is a breakdown of the degrees and potential penalties one faces if convicted.
2nd Degree Theft Cases: Value of the Loss Must Be Over $75,000.00
- 5 to 10 Years Prison Time
- Fine up to $150,000.oo
3rd Degree Theft Cases: Value of the Loss Must Be Over $500.00 but Less Than $75,000.00
- 3 to 5 Years Prison Time
- Fine up to $15,000.00
4th Degree Theft Cases: Value of the Loss Must Be Over $200.00 but Less Than $500.00
- 18 Month Prison Time
- Fine up to $10,00.oo
Disorderly Persons Theft Cases: Value of the Loss Must Be Less Than $200.00
- 6 Month Jail Time
- Fine up to $1,000.oo
Ways to Avoid Jail Time on a Theft Case
With that being said, New Jersey has created several different diversionary programs that a Defendant may be able to take advantage of. Those programs include the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), the Conditional Dismissal Program and Drug Court. If a Defendant is accepted into and the successfully complete the PTI or Conditional Dismissal Program, the charges will be outright dismissed. Therefore, a Defendant will be able to walk away without a criminal record let alone never serving a day in jail. For more information on these programs, please contact our office at (908) 533-1064.
Speak to a Theft Defense Attorney in Hunterdon County Today
The criminal defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law has been defending clients accused of theft by extortion, theft of services, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, burglary and shoplifting in courts throughout New Jersey for the better part of the last decade. Our attorneys have dedicated their entire careers to defending those accused of crimes. We fully comprehend what a felony theft conviction can do to someone’s future. We serve all of Somerset and Hunterdon County, including towns like Bound Brook, Bernards, Bedminster, Manville, Montgomery, Watchung, Flemington, Raritan and Clinton. If you would like to speak to one of our Somerset County criminal defense attorneys about your options then please contact us directly at (908) 533-1064 or email us.